- The first-ever Renault 5 Turbo to be homologated for Group 4 racing
- The only surviving ex-Works, Calberson-liveried Renault 5 Group 4, according to a report by marque historian, Gilles Vallerian
- Driven by Jean Ragnotti and Jean-Marc Andrié in the 1980 editions of the Tour de France Automobile and Tour de Corse
- Featured on the cover of the 1980/1981 L’Année Echappement, the long-running French motorsport annual
In 1979, Renault Sport had its sights set on Group 4 rally competition. In order to field a car in the class, team principle Gérard Larrousse had to wait for 400 production examples of the Renault 5 Turbo to be built for homologation. By the summer of 1980, the homologation target had been met, and the French marque moved swiftly, selecting a car with its chassis number ending in “B0000036” as the first Works car. As evidenced by a copy of the 1980 carte grise on file, this example was first road-registered on 8 September 1980, with the license plate “126 TZ 91”, and its titled owner stated as “S. A. Renault Sport”. This vehicle was adorned in the iconic Calberson-sponsored red-and-yellow livery.
This particular 5 Turbo was made by Renault at its Formula 1 department in Antony, France, constructed at the same time as Alain Prost’s single-seater race car. This makes chassis number “B0000036” the solitary non-F1 entrant to have been built at this famed facility, with all other cars assembled at other Renault locations in Viry or Lyon.
The first outing for the Renault 5 Turbo took place just nine days after the car was registered, appearing at the Tour de France Automobile on 17 September 1980. The car wore the race number “4” and was piloted by Jean Ragnotti with Jean-Marc Andrié as the co-driver. The rally unfurled in an atmosphere of excitement, with Ragnotti and Andrié dominating the first seven stages of the rally. Unfortunately, the first outing didn’t end in victory, as an off-road excursion in the Col de Perty cost them five minutes, and they were forced to retire six stages before the end, suffering from ignition issues. However, this flamethrowing and vibrant Calberson-liveried Renault 5 had caused a hell of storm on its debut.
The next event that the car was campaigned in was the 1980 Tour de Corse, starting on 23rd October, and lasting for three days. The same driver pairing were clear favourites, given their debut performance at the previous event. The duo took victory in the first stage but were relegated to 4th place following a subsequent puncture. Ragnotti fought back to take the lead once and was headed for victory but an alternator belt failure, led to an unfortunate retirement. Despite this, the impressive performance, once again with the talented Ragnotti behind the wheel, made for yet another positive showing.
The final works team outing was at the 1981 Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo, where it was used as a recce car to test tyres prior to the event. Notably, this plucky Renault had generated such excitement and enthusiasm amongst the French motorsport community that it was to grace the cover of the 1980/1981 edition of L’Année Echappement, the long-running French motorsport annual.
After the end of its competitive career, this landmark Renault was retained by the factory until it was sold at Chateau de Fontainebleau on 25 April 1989. It latterly became the property of Jean Sage (the former sporting director of Renault Sport from 1977 to 1985), fine testament indeed that the boss was to personally own one of his previously overseen combatants. In 1997 it was offered for sale at auction by, and was purchased by its next owner who went on to keep the Renault for the next 17 years. Maintenance and servicing records on file from 2003 to 2016 total in excess of €50,000 expenditure. In 2014, the Renault was sold to the current owner, who displayed it at the prestigious Chantilly Arts & Elegance concours in 2016 but otherwise has kept it within his collection.
This emotively attractive Renault 5 Turbo presents an enviable opportunity to acquire an ex-Works Renault Sport vehicle that was driven by then lead driver, the great Jean Ragnotti in some of the most renowned rallies on French soil. According to historian Gilles Vallerian, this significant Turbo retains its period-correct paint and stickers, alongside its factory-correct engine, gearbox and mechanical components. This formidable 5 Turbo is not only an important part of Renault’s rich rally history and is highly eligible to venture into on the historic motorsport scene with its next owner if desired.